We just might have a fave new travel destination in Southeast Asia: Vietnam!
For some reason, my family’s go-to weekend getaways seem to default to Thailand or Indonesia, but we recently packed our bags for a long weekend in Vietnam. Let’s just say that Vietnam will be seeing a lot more of us in the future! Here are all the details from our quick stop over in Ho Chi Minh City at the Caravelle Saigon followed by a relaxing island stay for three nights at Six Senses Con Dao.
It would have been very easy to jet straight to Con Dao from Singapore, but we decided to extend our trip an extra day for a cheeky evening in Saigon. The 5-star Caravelle Saigon is perfectly located amidst some of the greatest sights, shopping and entertainment in Ho Chi Minh City. It was a short but heavily trafficked eight kilometres drive from the airport with in car wi-fi.
We have stayed at the Caravelle before, but they’ve since undergone a recent renovation providing several new restaurants and a facelift for much of the hotel. I would highly recommend staying in the Heritage Saigon Suite, which has views of the Opera House just opposite the hotel and plenty of room for our little one.
We opted to head out for dinner at the very instagrammable Cuc Gach Quan, a must try Vietnamese family “countryside” style restaurant with an enormous menu. They have a whole page dedicated to fresh flower blossoms, along with claypots and much more – YUM! I suggest having a quick flip through the menu but ultimately asking the very friendly waitstaff for their best suggestions. I have been a few times and have never been misguided.
Six Senses Con Dao is located on the largest of an archipelago of 16 islands, a quick 45-minute commercial plane ride from Ho Chi Minh City. These flights were booked by the amazing staff at Six Senses and for the journey we received VIP treatment, from check-in at the airport to arrival beachside. The rustic luxury of the 50 private pool villas lining the mile-long beach seemed to blend in with the beauty of the natural surroundings. Did I mention that more than 80% of Con Dao is a marine protected area and national park? It’s pretty heavenly.
I know I’ve already mentioned it, but the beach was fabulous, with super soft sand and warm, calm water and it was dotted with the most beautiful seashells. Another fave feature was our primary means of transportation: two bicycles that were waiting for us in our villa! To me, few things scream HOLIDAY more than meandering to the spa via beach cruiser after brekkie and a play on the beach!
It’s just not a holiday without a trip to the spa, am I right girls? Situated slightly up the mountainside, the treatment rooms boast beautiful views of other islands in the distance. My husband had his first pedicure (shhh! Don’t tell him I told you!) and the amazing ladies even took an extra 15 minutes or so on his treatment to give him the extra TLC his tootsies needed. I also took advantage of one of their complimentary yoga classes one morning. It was definitely yoga with a view!
“By the Beach” is the main restaurant serving brekkie with scrumptious in-house fresh baked goods and a huge selection of homemade jams. We also enjoyed a great set lunch (just over $30) one afternoon with the highlight being the included free flow wine and beer. Our favourite dining spot, though, was the local fresh fare at Vietnamese at the Market, a four table stall with an open kitchen for the family to watch while everything was prepared fresh!
This time around we opted to stay put at the resort, but if you are more of the adventurous type Six Senses had some great excursions including Turtle nesting discovery, motorbike tours to town and the markets, diving and fishing boat trips, rain forest trekking and much more. Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all! My greatest regret was just missing the Turtle nesting and hatching, so I look forward to returning for that.
A special thanks to Eat Play Surf, who helped book portions of this trip and can certainly do the same if you’re keen to take on Vietnam for a long weekend yourself. Go ahead, you know you deserve a little R&R!
The flight from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh is 1 hour and 45 minutes. The flight from Ho Chi Minh to Con Dao is 45 minutes. Remember some need Visas into Vietnam and the flight to Con Dao is from the Domestic Terminal. Leave a few hours between the two flights if you are planning to go directly from Singapore to Con Dao.
We opted for the Vietnam online visa approval letter to streamline things. But remember you still have to hand over the approval letter, passport photos and $45 USD per person at Immigration upon arrival at the airport, and this can take up to an hour. Great news for the British, you no longer need a visa for Vietnam as of 1st July 2015. You lucky ducks!
Make sure to bring and use your mozzie repellant while at Con Dao. Or even better, just use the bug repellant that Six Senses provides for you in the room. The beach had some pretty hungry sand flies and my husband and I had a few big bites to take home as souvenirs.
When to Go
Six Senses Con Dao can be a great trip if you have always wanted to view turtle nesting and the amazing trip the baby turtles take from egg to sea when they hatch. This generally happens from May to October. Six Senses keeps track of the nests and can arrange for a guest experience.
For divers, the waters around Con Dao are clearest from February to July averaging 20-30 metre visibility.
Six Senses Con Dao, Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao District, Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, Vietnam, Tel: (+84) 64 3831 222, www.sixsenses.com/resorts/con-dao